Expand Habitats For Wild Cats


Bini Dahal

Globally rising population coupled with fast expansion of concrete jungle has put nature in jeopardy. This effect is evidently seen in rare wildlife species like tiger. Amidst a fall in the number of the wild cats worldwide, Nepal has become an exception, achieving a new milestone.

Recently, Nepal government conducted a census to count the existing number of tigers available within the country. And the results were astonishing. The country now accommodates a total of 355 tigers, a figure that has tripled since 2010. This is a clear indication that Nepal is the one and only tiger range country that has achieved the goal it pledged to meet 12 years ago. Wildlife conservationists around the globe are elated by this news and the government is beaming with joy and pride.

Every single species, ranging from minute bacteria to the largest organisms, is part of the natural environment. The ecological cycle is much more complex than we can imagine and the interrelationship between the different species requires their proper conservation. So, the goal behind any conservation effort is to ensure that the natural cycle does not get disrupted.

However, excess of everything is not considered to be good. And the same goes with the rising tiger population. Conservationists are of the view that most of the habitats for tigers have a very limited carrying capacity. Therefore, too much of tiger population cannot be accommodated by the same location. Now when this happens, its direct and indirect effects are many. A significant increase in tiger population means that there is a higher demand for food. However, the supply of different preys for the wild cats will have to grow in the same proportion, which is not possible.

When demand and supply do not balance each other, the whole ecosystem, including the human beings, will suffer. We have seen this phenomenon happening in Nepal where human-tiger conflicts are very common. Tigers are forced to enter human settlements in search of food, as every single organism has its own survival instinct. Conservationists fear that when we focus too much on increasing the tiger population, in a way we are also facilitating human-tiger conflicts to happen. 

The fight can cause the locals to show animosity and they may stop making efforts to conserve this important wildlife species. A consequent effect could be the decline of tiger population. We can conclude that an increase in the number of tigers has posed as a double-edged sword for Nepal. 

Now that the country has put so much effort into successfully achieving the milestone, the government and the authorities should focus their attention towards sustainability. The protected areas, which are a habitat for tigers, should be expanded so as to support the rising number of tiger population. 

Likewise, the local communities should not be allowed to lie very close to the protected areas and their buffer zones so as to avoid the possible human-wildlife conflict. Conservation alone should never be the goal of a country. Obviously, when it comes to extinct species, immediate actions become the key to protecting them from disappearing. But the growing tiger population has forced us to sit back and think whether the country can maintain this tendency for a long time or not. These are some aspects that Nepal now needs to divert its attention to. 

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